An exercise for the audience

Okay, I forgot to post till now, mostly because I was doing art, I’m sorry.  Husband woke up and I remembered “oh, shoot, blog.”

But yesterday’s discussion on “why should we believe the UN on population when we don’t believe them on anything else?” made me think we have a pool of people with diverse backgrounds and knowledge…

WHAT things are generally accepted as “the truth” that are doubtful or outright wrong in your experience?  Particularly things that, like “the population is exploding, zomg,” trend to support higher government control?

I mean, not “people think the best gun is blah blah, but it’s actually blah blah, because that falls under holy wars” but other stuff, like population that you either know or have a strong reason to suspect ain’t as painted?


422 thoughts on “An exercise for the audience

    1. That one’s worth additional commentary, because it is so common. The Michaelson-Morley experiments indicated that something was wrong with physics as postulated. That led to Lorentz suggesting that if distance and time varied as a function of velocity (the Lorentz transformations), all experiments would be reconciled. (Later, I believe, it’s been shown that you can derive the Lorentz transformations from Maxwell’s equations). Einstein postulated a theoretical framework for the universe in which the Lorentz transformations, instead of seeming like some strange patch to physics, made sense.

      However, when people talk about “relativity being proven” — what they mean (whether they know it or not), is that the Lorentz transformations have been proven. And indeed they have, to absurd levels of accuracy. But they preexisted Einstein’s framework and they don’t in any way depend on it.

      The postulate of relativity — that there is no such thing as “absolute” velocity, or a “preferred” reference frame, is a postulate. It is unproven but it is science (it’s falsifiable). There are experiments which are difficult to reconcile with that postulate, but I wouldn’t say that it has, as yet, been disproven.

      In particular, any confusion about causality paradoxes in FTL is a consequence, NOT of those physics which we have proven and demonstrated, but of Einstein’s postulated absence of any “absolute” reference frame and his definition of clock synchronization. Might be true. Might not.

    2. I’m no physicist. I’m not surprised that you can’t observe anything moving faster than light since all of our methods of measuring velocity are limited by it.

      1. And, assuming simple ox understand Relativity etc. correctly (seems unlikely), even if the detectors did, wouldn’t an FTL item would look like an STL item going the other way? “Macro” object would stand out by ‘going the wrong way’ but particles?

        1. Maybe it would seem like displacement. In some experiments where particles are accelerated and collided, particles can be observed being annihilated while simultaneously another particle blinks into existence in a different location.

          OR it could be that the same particle is very briefly accelerated faster than can be observed and when it is “slow” enough to be detected again is now in a different location, appearing as 2 distinct particles.

    3. I’ve long been convinced that was a puzzle set us by a Creator who’s telling us, “You can’t brute force this one.”

      And it will take an act of faith to pull it off. Whoever smashes the Light Barrier will start with the conclusion that it CAN be done. And will let his name into the rock of history in letters of solid gold.

      1. Except nobody is going to smash the Light Barrier. We’ll go over it, under it, around it, or like the sneaky bastards we humans are, we’ll change the rules so it’s some different value.

          1. We don’t need to see where we’re going. Nothing can go wrong…. Oops! 👿

              1. And yet, if what’s on the other side of the room is so delightful, or if what’s behind you in the room is so terrifying or stultifying, that crossing that room is worth the risk of barking one’s shin on a chair or stepping on a Lego piece or belt buckle or bit of broken glass, some people will attempt it. See the Mountain Men or the Conestoga wagon pioneers.

      2. That seems to happen about every time humans start going “WE’ve got this figured out!” The Almighty goes “Ooo I’ve been waiting for them to get to THIS stuff. You’ve gotten the EASY work done, have fun with the next step! The really COOL stuff is coming.”

  1. Every one of those I can think of have been done here to death, though! It’s cheaper to eat badly and that’s why poor Americans are fat, poor countries are poor due to the abuse of white imperialists and not their own kleptocrats, the Americans were paranoid about Communism and everyone accused of being a foreign agent were wide-eyed innocents who just wanted a peaceful world (Klaus Fuchs was the only Atomic Spy, donchaknow, and just because he was a good Internationalist who didn’t think America should be the world’s atomic power.)

    If I had to come up with a new one… hm. Landlords have no value-add, they just make money by declaring ownership over a scarce resource and charging for its use, when obviously the person living there is getting the use and should have all the ownership. In short, landlords are leeches on the productive who only have their privileged position due to luck and status.

    (That’s just… so much not how it works it’s not even funny.)

    1. “Landlords have no value-add, they just make money by declaring ownership over a scarce resource and charging for its use, when obviously the person living there is getting the use and should have all the ownership. In short, landlords are leeches on the productive who only have their privileged position due to luck and status.”

      And also, my landlord really needs to get on with making the repairs to my microwave…

    2. > countries are poor due to the abuse of white imperialists and not their own kleptocrats

      Thus explaining why Zimbabwe became an earthly paradise once the white imperialists were kicked out, and why South Africa has changed from a near-First World country to a near-Third World Country.

    3. It’s amazing how many of the social theories of ownership and public property seem to boil down to ‘i dun wanna pay’

    1. “War,
      “What is it good for?
      “Absolutely nothing.”
      Well, Mr. Edwin Starr, you’re a descendant of slaves, ain’t you? Should we have left the South to treat you as it did then? (considering the southern democrat stances at the time of the song this is an especially stupid stance for him to take)
      So, we should have left Mussolini and Hitler in charge and allowed Japan to do as it pleased to east Asia?

      1. “War, Nobby. Huh! What is it good for?” he said.
        “Dunno, Sarge. Freeing slaves, maybe?”
        “Absol—well, okay.”
        “Defending yourself against a totalitarian aggressor?”
        “All right, I’ll grant you that, but—”
        “Saving civilization from a horde of—”
        “It doesn’t do any good in the long run is what I’m saying, Nobby, if you’d listen for five seconds together,” said Fred Colon sharply.
        “Yeah, but in the long run, what does, Sarge?”
        ― Terry Pratchett, Thud!

    2. “Anyone who clings to the historically untrue — and — thoroughly immoral doctrine that violence never solves anything I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler would referee. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor; and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and their freedoms.”

    1. I was removed from first year sociology course at university when I argued with Prof about whether fascism is left or right wing. I pointed out to my Prof that I was right wing Whig or libertarian and fascism was not remotely what I want for society or government. Communists are wedded to belief that any one to right of them is ‘right wing’ , and therefore evil, because it makes them feel better about themselves.

      1. The whole Fascism/Nazism is rightwing came from Stalin, but he claimed “They turned Righwing” as an excuse for why their “Cousins to the West” attacked after years of prattling on about how they and their “Cousins” were going to bring about true Utopia. The only policy change the Nazis made was to finally attack to the East. Stalin needed to save face for failing to realize the attack was going to come sooner than he originally thought. It was all buddy-buddy when they were dividing up Poland.

        1. And Stalin’s credibility on matters of Right and Left would be nil if the Left wasn’t almost purely composed of his sycophants.

    2. As I beleive our hostess has pointed out, Fascism is indeed right-wing. If you consider Stalin to be a moderate.

    3. Related: that the terms “right wing” and “left wing” have any meaningful definitions, or are of any real use other than as terms of abuse.

      I mean, they did, for about fifteen seconds during the French Revolution, but not since. The people who supported the king, more or less, sat on the right, and the people who didn’t, more or less, sat on the left. That distinction didn’t even survive the first days of the Revolution, largely because the “right wing” had fled or been executed.

      Pretty soon the factions were “Montagnards” (because they sat in the higher rows of seats) and “Girondins” (because some of the prominent leaders were from the Gironde region).

      I prefer Heinlein’s categories: The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.

      1. “Right” and “Left” are quite useful, just not enough to overcome the current tendency of the Left to try to frustrate pattern recognition. (Surely if we insist that this extremist is “middle of the road” long enough, it will be TRUE!)

        They’re not universal, no, at least not in the way they’re used. They also don’t recognize philosophical differences– say, that “controlling people” is a sliding scale, rather than that it is a tool which can be good or bad. (Punishing bad-think: bad; punishing rape, murder and theft: good.)

        One of the funny things in ProgWatching is seeing the same person insist that Hitler is right wing, labels don’t matter, and that the left and right don’t really disagree, they’re (meaning you) are just mistaken or confused, and that disagreement with them is evil.
        Sometimes in the same conversation. ^.^

        1. And that people aren’t widgets, and occasionally they don’t exactly fit in the neat little niches designed for them. You get the occasional rightwinger with a “leftwing” belief, like the pro-gun, pro-free market, pro-abortion small government libertarian or the anti-gun, pro-abortion, pro-universal health care, big government liberal who actually supports the military.
          The sliding scale that is humanity means that some people are going to have beliefs that don’t fit with the majority who hold their other beliefs. Because while stereotypes actually work for generalizations of large samples of the population, they don’t necessarily work for individuals.

        2. The problem with “right” and “left” is they pre-suppose a simple, one-dimensional scale on which political thought can be found. And that simply is not true – and why so many people are so easily confused.

          1. That’s like objecting to north and south because they don’t cover east, west, up and down– it’s not supposed to work for everything. It’s supposed to give you an idea of where someone is going to be, and party label really doesn’t do it. Far too many “Libertarians” that are quite willing to legislate “morality”– as long as it’s punishing tradition.

      2. Also, as long as you bring up the French Revolution, how many prisoners were there in the Bastille?
        Simon Schama said that there were four old men who were
        freed when the Bastille was stormed – no more.

          1. He had in fact been in the Bastille for a while, but at the time of the storming he’d been moved to an insane asylum.

            He was freed by the revolution, then imprisoned again by Robespierre, then freed again after Robespierre fell, then promptly imprisoned again by Napoleon.

            Because, you know, the dude was skeevy.

      3. I fear Heinlein was wrong. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled, those who have no such desire, and those who want the first group controlled.

          1. Somewhat, but their goal of control is purely defensive. They don’t think they can run anybody else’s life better, they merely want limits on those who imagine themselves capable of running their (Cat3) lives better. Absent category 1 category 3 would be in category 2, which would by process of elimination be category 1.

            1. Similar to the claim that libertarians are dictators because they won’t allow someone else to live in utter dependency on the State, as they desire so much to do.

              “I desire to live in a society where everyone follows the rules as I think they ought to be and the wealthy pay their fair share so I can get my UBI. If libertarians truly believed in leaving people alone, they’d let me have exactly what I want.”

      4. My degree of wanting to be able to control people consists entirely of wanting to be able to force them to leave me alone.

      5. Related: that the terms “right wing” and “left wing” have any meaningful definitions

      1. Loved the story of that leftoid bint who went to a “White Supremacist” meeting that was KKK and Neo-Nazis, actually listened to what they wanted, and found they wanted a whole lot of what she wanted.

        1. The difference tends to be the desired client racial makeup. NS tend to want for themselves while S tend to want to administer it for others.

          1. Not even.

            The difference is in the ordering of the categories.

            The International socialists divide everyone by economic/social class THEN by race/tribe. The national socialists divide first by race/tribe THEN by social/economic class.

            YUGE difference doncha know.

            1. Not so much anymore, Bill. Since they got into the whole “the third world is the harbinger of revolution” (Aka the Gramscian correction to Marx) they’re into “oppressed tribes” as much as any national socialist.
              In fact, the only difference might be the national socialists prize “strong” tribes, and the international socialists prize “oppressed tribes.”

    4. Fascism is right wing… if you are a Communist. And National Socialism is to the right of International Socialism. We think of Nazis and Fascists as Left wing only because we are sane about where we put the ‘middle’ of the spectrum. I think the claim that Nazis are right wing tells you more about the person asserting that than about the right.

  2. “Welfare reform is racist.”

    Oh, and everyone SHOULD know that John Moses Browning was the Lord’s prophet and the 1911A1 pistol is the great of all time.

      1. But requiring ID, a background check and a method of proving your residency to buy a firearm isn’t.

        1. But drivers licenses are so important to functioning in modern society that we *must* change the laws so that illegal aliens can obtain them.

      2. “There are millions of citizens who wouldn’t be able to vote if you required ID.”

        No one making this argument seems to care that they’re also denied the ability to open a checking account, rent a car, buy alcohol, enter a federal building, or get a real job.


  3. I would say global warming is biggest, most costly, scam going on right now.

    I think world population numbers are being rigged because many comfortable, middle class left wing people are keen to provide abortions to black and brown people in third world countries and they use overpopulation as excuse.

  4. Western civilization/modern industry/both are the worst things EVER!!!!! to happen to the environment, because everyone lived in peace and harmony with “NATURE” until Greece and Rome/the Patriarchy/the internal combustion engine/the Enlightenment came along and destroyed the planet.

    1. Parallel meme on that theme, Native Americans never harmed the environment and lived in a peaceful Utopia prior to the European Invasion.

  5. Life was better for women before [chosen thing] because back then, women ran society and were respected and their Special Ways of Knowing were more highly valued, and back then gays/trans-people were also honored and treated with dignity and respect.

    This seems to be more common “common knowledge” than I’d have thought.

      1. Being bonkers doesn’t mean people won’t believe it. Example: Scientology. I’ve often herd the one about the mythical past where all was peaceful and women ran things.

    1. Chiefly characterized by the person choosing it knowing little history before that point. Ideally, none should be available. (Easy to rhapsodize about the status of women in pagan Ireland when all the writings are Christian era.)

    1. If you called capitalism “organic, free-range economics” the Left would have a harder time denigrating it.

      1. Capitalism is organic to humans, in that it is what emerges in the absence of suppression.

  6. Christianity is anti-science.

    A little reading of the writings of the early pioneers of the modern scientific method shows that, far from rejecting religion in favor of science, science was a direct result of their faith. It was because they believed in a God who had written a firm law into the created universe that they could strive to “think God’s thoughts after Him.”

    1. Hear hear! Stanley Jaki’s work does a nice job of showing that in his huge volume _The Relevance of Physics_.

    2. > Christianity is anti-science.

      I’ve always wondered how one could possibly reconcile this with the observed fact that modern science developed in Christendom.

      Have various churches made wrong judgments on scientific matters over the years? Of course they have. Churches are run by fallible human beings. But on the whole, every bit of modern science and technology came out of the Christian countries (and the parts that didn’t are the result of importing Western knowledge). That’s not a coincidence.

      1. They point to Galileo as their proof, and look shocked when you point out he was mostly financed by the church in many ways, and was put before an Inquisition for not showing proof of data in his work, while insulting the Pope (while claiming he wasn’t insulting the pope by calling him a simpleton, the Latin words were too similar so it was a typo, really. Yeah, that’s the ticket.)

        1. Well, considering the current pope is a socialist, referring to him as a simpleton does have historic precedents.

        2. Yeah, point out that he was essentially calling his boss an idiot, to his face in public, when he was already being called out for scientific malpractice (The Pope was one of his patrons.) and they get REALLY confused.

      2. Churches are run by fallible human beings.
        And the corollary to “Christianity is anti-science” is that science is perfect because “Reason”! Except, of course, science is ALSO run by fallible human beings……..

    3. And that Catholics and evangelicals have the same beliefs on the subject. I saw a story that started off with a teacher getting fired because she was teaching about dinosaurs in Catholic elementary, and I was thinking, “You do know that the Vatican has a dedicated science department?” (And they’re not beholden to grants, too, so they do the necessary stuff that other groups skip over, like cataloguing all the plants in a given area.)

  7. Perceptions of relative risk are extremely poor. For example, there are folk freaked out by Fukushima waste in the eastern Pacific … at levels barely detectable above background radiation. Other examples abound.

    1. Barely detectable? We stopped being able to detect contamination a mile off shore within a few months of the accident.

      One of my running jokes at work is that according to Facebook we’ll all be screwed when the Fukushima radiations arrive. I work with people who actually went over to Japan to help with the accident.

      1. And then there are the studies that increasing background radiation from current levels to somewhere about 10X current levels results in increased lifespans for lab rats. It starts dropping off after that…

        Those studies aren’t widely publicized.

        1. More generally, the “Linear, No Threshold” dose-response hypothesis for *ANY* hazard. In the case of radiation, it’s especially interesting because it was KNOWN TO BE WRONG when it was adopted as a public standard — but it was conservative, and the real curve is complicated and poorly known at low dose, so they thought “what’s the harm in being a little conservative”. By the time it was tightened up 10x, then another 10x, then (I *think* from memory), ANOTHER 10X, there was great harm, but the Holy Model was by then chiseled in stone tablets and not to be questioned. It’s the same as the theory by which trace amounts of *anything* are deemed to be hazardous, far, far, far below any laboratory evidence of any harm.

          It’s by this theory that 12 grams of aspirin kills 50% of the people, so we reason that 80 milligrams of aspirin ought to kill 3% of the people, so all those physicians prescribing 80 milligrams of aspirin a day as a theraputic dose are crazed; also that 150 days of 80 milligrams/day ought to kill 50% of the people.

          1. Those who are pregnant or have a pregnant family member:

            I swear, HALF of the miserable-making medical advice for pregnancy uses it.

            I think I’ve told the story about being challenged about eating “rum cake” when pregnant with the princess, right? It had one jigger of rum in the frosting for a cake the size of a motorcycle, which had then been heated to get the melty-goodness effect on the glaze, and I was having a small piece. Ignoring evaporation effects, that is about half a teaspoon of rum. That is not going to mark the baby. (I think I ended up explaining that the vanilla frosting probably had more alcohol in it, and was roughly as dangerous, with some notes about dosage and risk.)

            But no cost is too large to make someone else feel safe, and frankly pregnant women are very easy to freak out.

            Be the voice of reason.

              1. Making them less scientific than a guy who talked about undines, sylphs, gnomes, and salamanders as elementals. . . .

                Paracelsus is the oldest recorded instance of that saying.

            1. *gets the giggles*

              Incidentally, the cake was the size of a motorcycle WHEEL.

              Really, really huge ring cake.

              Not a motorcycle….

              *wanders off dreaming of a Honda Trailblazer cake*

                  1. Been a few times I wished my ST1100 had one as well. It is 730 lbs wet.
                    The new 2018 ‘Wing is some good bit lighter than the old one. 787 or so wet, and looks aimed at the BMW1600 sport version.

                  2. I’m of average height, but I have short legs. Lots of times I would have liked a reverse gear when trying to tippy-toe a bike backwards. Particularly with a passenger.

            2. I think I had unusually reasonable OBGYNs. They subscribed faithfully to “there is no amount of alcohol known to be safe,” yes, but they had a list of acceptable medications; in contrast, a friend’s wife was avoiding as far as I could tell every form of OTC medicine on the grounds that the dose in relation to body weight would be much higher for the baby than for her. (I asked wouldn’t it be spread around her body weight as well, and possibly whether there was reason to think it would be concentrated rather than limited by the placental barrier, but they basically fell back on the better safe than sorry route.)

              1. Part of it is fear of lawsuit. Nobody sues for making you miserable during pregnancy, but if you say “tylenol is OK” and something goes wrong, and you’re in a state where a jury will award based on “doctors are all powerful, had to be wrongdoing,” you’re going to make the person miserable.

                I’ve both lost a child because the doctor didn’t give a @#$@#. (Or was simply incompetent, hard to tell– he almost cost my husband his job) and been shocked at finding out a thing I’d avoided like the plague could be safely prescribed, although there were of course some risks. (I’m on baby aspirin for the blood thinning effects because an indication that could possibly be associated with low blood-flow, or might just be an odd growth pattern; amusingly enough, it’s definitely helping…my carpel tunnel.)

                1. One of the things doctors rarely tell you is that only 1/3rd of the population derive any benefit from taking a baby aspirin daily. There’s actually a test available to tell if you do or not. And for many of us, like myself, even that much aspirin every day messes up normal coagulation.

            3. I hope nobody tells these people that bread is also made with yeast, which, of course, makes alcohol (as with the cake, though, almost all of it is going to be evaporated in baking).

              Heck, the old time miners used to drink their sourdough starter to go on a cheap bender.

              1. I considered rattling off all the things that contain alcohol, and then figured I should probably not lest they inflict it on someone else. Publicly. And rather obnoxiously. Even if they did mean well…

                1. I vaguely recall my father telling a story about one of my mother’s aunts, who was a vocal teetotaller… but swore that cough syrup could cure just about anything.

                  1. there was a 19th century elixir that was very popular with temperance types and heavily alcoholic.

              2. Song Lyrics Index View Cart

                Away With Rum
                Album: Silly Songs


                We’re coming, we’re coming, our brave little band
                On the right side of temp’rance we now take our stand.
                We don’t use tobacco, because we do think
                That the people who use it are liable to drink

                Away, away, with rum, by gum,
                Rum by gum, rum by gum
                Away, away, with rum, by gum,
                The song of the Temperance Union.

                We never eat cookies because they have yeast,
                And one little bite turns a man to a beast.
                Oh, can you imagine the utter disgrace
                Of a man in the gutter with crumbs on his face?

                We never eat fruitcake because it has rum,
                And one little slice puts a man on the bum.
                Oh, can you imagine the sorrier sight
                Of a man eating fruitcake until he gets tight?

                We never drink tea — but they mix it with wine,
                And one little drink turns a man to a swine.
                Oh, can you imagine a sorrier sight
                Than a man drinking tea and then singing all night?

        2. To be fair, they’re rather small preliminary studies. Of course, that’s never stopped the media from trumpeting results that reinforce their world view.

          The cynic in me thinks that the Japanese people exist to teach the world about the effects of radiation. Most of our data for the effects of acute exposure and high level internal contamination comes from survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now, thanks to Fukushima, in a few years we’ll have a massive amount of data from a large, generally homogeneous population with similar diet and lifestyle but varying levels of exposure to low levels of environmental radiation. That should allow us to tease out any effect, positive or negative, that low doses have.

      1. Of course not! All things Soviet are good and all things American are Eville! This was heard more in the 70’s and 80’s but no time limit was mentioned

      2. And at least one dumped before decommissioning, if you consider the Barents close enough to be the Arctic Ocean.

    2. And don’t forget how Chernobyl turned Belarus and Ukraine into sterile waste lands. Or caused wild mutations of something-or-other that the government[s] are covering up.

      Dad was part of the later medical response to that. Um, the ecosystem is doing fine. Glowingly* well, in fact.

      *Sorry-not-sorry. I just had to go there.

          1. The Hanford reservation has been working with nuclear materials since the Manhattan Project. As you can imagine some of the early radiological controls were somewhat lacking. One of the things that the radiological control techs used to do was go around and find radioactive bushes in the desert and spray paint them hot pink so they could be identified and disposed of properly. That practice ended when one of the high ranking muckety-mucks was in Portland and saw some bright pink tumbleweeds drifting down the Columbia River.

      1. You should have heard the ruckus about Three Mile Island. One of my teachers in mid 80’s was so anti nuclear that he wanted to ban nuclear medicine. Y’know radiation for cancer treatment? The thing that in addition to a radical mastectomy enabled my mother to give birth to me and only die of her breast cancer 25 years later.

        1. It didn’t help that Jane Fonda had a big anti-nuclear power movie that just happened to release right around the same time as Three Mile Island.

          1. As I understand it, the movie wasn’t doing too well in the box office until the accident, then it went through the roof. I’m not saying that TMI was deliberate sabotage, but I think we deserve to know where the studio executives for Columbia Pictures were in the days leading up to the accident.

            1. The line in the movie was that a meltdown would contaminate an area the size of Pennsylvania. Then Three Mile Island happened in the middle of Pennsylvania twelve days after the movie opened.

        2. It’s amazing how many people call it a disaster and have nothing to say when you ask what term they reserve for things that actually, you know, KILL SOMEONE?

      2. ‘Hiroshima Diary’ has a chapter ‘Panic Grass and Feverfew’ that mentions hearing claims that “nothing would grow there” for years and years, and yet those plants were already all over the place.

        1. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were supposed to be glowing radioactive hells for ten thousand years. Nobody bothered to tell the Japanese, apparently.

          1. It took me an embarrassingly long time to draw a connection between “a place that is nuked is destroyed for human use effectively forever” and “the Hiroshima Peace Memorial is both where that bomb detonated, and in the middle of a big freaking city.”

      3. To protect the envir The Environment we have to cede control of the economy to government. Just look at the Aral Sea Lake Pond!

  8. Warning: Long post

    A totally open ended question about misconceptions common today? *rubs grubby paws together* Goody. Now where did I put that anthropologist’s hat… *blows dust off*

    …It’s been a while, so some of this might be inaccurate. Anyway!

    Today I have a question for all y’all smart people. How different are you from your parents? Okay, how about your great grandparents? Now dial that back to the third century B.C. You can throw in your own areas of expertise and interest, be it Tudor England, Bronze Age Afghanistan, and so on. Think of all the recorded ages of mankind if you like. And if you do, and can, you are definitely more educated than me, because I have an exceedingly dim knowledge of the past in perspective.

    Most people proceed under two assumptions. On the one hand, that people in the past were exactly like people today. You can see this in “historical” fiction where you have modern feminist ideas in a Victorian era head. *chuckle* On the other, people believe that they are so massively superior to past peoples, because they have iphones and Twitter. In other words, history has an arrow, and it points directly at them. It isn’t that hard to debunk either one. These two ideas, that ancient people were no different than we are, and that they were more primitive and stupider in every way are both wrong, on the face of it.

    A more rational look at it would say that people of the past were *different* than we are because they didn’t have access to the technological progress we’ve achieved thus far. This is true enough on the face of it, but beneath that there is something else: We really aren’t that different at all. In fact, all human beings are born with massive unrealized potential. If you think this sounds familiar to something the founders of our country have said, have a cookie. *grin* That is an essential, revolutionary truth that is often missed, I think.

    When you look at how old the human race is, there are many different ideas about that, and we are still refining them. When I was first taught about anatomically modern humans, the accepted idea was around 280,000 years from our split from earlier australopithecine ancestors. This would put anatomically modern humans, the ones we called cro-magnon, and neandethals being around in the same time period, with that broad a picture. Later research a split somewhere between 200kya and 300kya (kya is kilo-years-ago, 200,000-300,00 years ago). Even further splitting looks at the post-glacial period of 50kya-30kya.

    Those are pretty big spreads, I know. And to put it further into perspective, the evidence we have for *writing* is about 3,100 years old. That’s around 5,118 years of written history, versus ten times that humans (anatomically speaking) have been around.

    When I keep saying “anatomically speaking,” it is significant because at that point, there is no difference that I can tell morphologically between a recently defleshed skeleton and one that has been buried for tens of thousands of years. Brain size, head shape, dentition, the works. Personally, I’d push it even farther back, because the size of the brain box is critical- once it reached a certain threshold, we have human behavior. Toolmaking. Changing our environment. Burial practices. Art. All of these things imply a sophisticated level of communication- language. And vocabulary (language) is a pretty good indicator of relative intelligence.

    When you look at the arc of human technological development, it’s not a steady curve upward towards the present. Presented graphically, it looks more like a series of waterfalls in reverse. Innovation is hard. But radically new technologies that are useful and practical get picked up and spread *rapidly.* We are a very highly adaptable species, compared to all others we have encountered. We haven’t found another nearly as intelligent and adaptable as we are to judge ourselves by.

    So what differentiates intelligence across time? Multiple factors can affect human intelligence (for instance, we know how to break human brains quite well these days). Nutrition, especially when young. Culture. Amount of leisure time. War. Population density. Disease. Average technology level (for instance, consider communications technology, and how it changed with oceangoing ships, rail, telegraph, and radio).

    Even with all of that, the baseline potential of human intelligence still allows for a tremendous range of adaptability. I would argue that the cultural differences are even greater than the ones exhibited over time (and this can show the broad range of adaptability especially well- look at the differences between North and South Korea, for example).

    When you look at it this way, the idea that history has an arrow and it is pointed right at the modern SJW is patently ridiculous. Were I of the conspiracy theorist type, I might suspect that this is why progressives have been infiltrating history and anthropology disciplines so heavily, to prevent this sort of thing from becoming common knowledge. I’m not, really, and I know anthropology has weak defenses to progressivism due to its cultural/interpretative ares of focus.

    The idea that ancient humans had the same sort of brain as we do, with the same drives, urges, capabilities, and adaptability shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. The fact that it tends to upset lefties is just a happy side benefit. *chuckle*

    1. One of my aunts, my dad’s sister-in-law, did a genealogy of the family, but the male side first showed up in 1815 (no background whatever) and the female side traces back to two Finnish kings around 850-900 AD. So I have no idea where anyone was in 300BC. I suspect their lives then were “nasty, brutish, and short.”

      1. sam57l0 , if the female side of your family had unfinished kings, you wouldn’t be here to tell us about it, would you?

    2. Ah, but to the liberal-progressive-SocialJusticeWarriors, history truly IS an arrow. Condensing out of the past from 32, 16, 8, 4, 2 to them, they are the sole end result. But when they subscribe to the abortion on demand, zero population growth, non-reproductive sex (e.g. ass eating) philosophy and attendant life-style, they have no human future after them.

      For those of us who don’t subscribe to those notions, history can be an hour-glass. The past condenses down to us, it’s up to us to be fruitful and multiply, to expand outward, either personally with our families, or by supporting in our myriad ways those that do.

  9. “Treat everyone as you wish to be treated” is some kind of universal law that all humans in all cultures accept.

    The idea that some cultures believe “Take care of your own clan, even if that means robbing or murdering strangers” is the height of morality is something that those raised with a Judeo-Christian ethic have a hard time even imagining.

    1. I’ve written (or tried to write) characters with that perspective, but there were some cheats involved.

    2. That people will only take what is needed and give what they can if there is no incentive. So post scarcity there will be no gradations of people

    1. Speaking of homophobia…

      A: Homosexuality is defined as a sexual attraction to one’s own gender.
      B: Homosexuality has been declared (with some medical backing) to be an inherent, inborn trait.
      C: Non-binary/queer theory states that gender is simply a social construct.
      D: It is IMPOSSIBLE to have an inherent trait based on something that only exists within a social group (and thus must be different for different social organizations).

      Therefore, either:

      E: Homosexuals are cis-gender fascists who deny the fundamental humanity of non-binary people.


      E: Non-binary identity is inherently homophobic.

      I hate that I gave this that much thought.

      1. Actually, you’ve got it wrong, sorry to say. It’s actually transsexuals who are the cis-fascists on account of their fanatical and irrational insistence that gender isn’t a social construct and the differences between the sexes are more than superficial cosmetic details.

      2. E. As long as they insist on refusing the advances on the grounds that the person propositioning them is not really a man or a woman.

        So much for “Me Too.”

    2. > Criticism equals harassment

      Disagreement equals assault. Or hate. Or threat. Or whatever the Narrative requires at the time.

  10. It isn’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.
    –Will Rogers

    Peak oil will be hit within ten years.

    I’ve been told/reading this literally my entire adult life.

    Peak oil won’t be what we can get, it will be what we decide to get.

    1. The big question is will we run out of oil in the ground before we come up with an affordable way to bring it back from Titan?

      1. Depends on whether we can get Fusion working properly, or get safe, cost effective MSRs/Pebble bed reactors deployed.

        If we can get off coal and petroleum for baseline power, and get the cost of that baseline power down far enough we can probably make bio-fuels cost effective (no, not ethanol, bio-diesel and other “synthetic” petroleum products). If that happens we don’t need to bring it back from titan.

        You’d know the issues around this more than I would though.

        1. The problem for nuclear is that right now a combined cycle gas plant is just stupid cheap to build and operate. And with the advances we’re seeing in fracking, I honestly don’t see that changing in my lifetime. Especially now that interest rates are going up.

          I mean, the good news is that we’re going to have cheap and plentiful energy for a long, long time since we’ve still got all that uranium and thorium sitting in the ground once oil starts becoming scarce, but that means we’re going to lose a lot of institutional knowledge when the nuke plants finally age out and are replaced by gas. When we finally turn to nuclear we’re going to make a lot of mistakes that we’ve already made.

      1. According to the Grauniad, that bellwether of scientific reliability, we had only four years left in 2009:

        Two years later, in 2011, we had five years left:

        Oddly, two years after that, in 2013, we had 30 years left. I’m not sure what happened there:

        Then four years after that, in 2017, we’d slipped back to three years left:

        They’re quite obviously making this shit up as they go along.

        1. weren’t the Himalayan glaciers also supposed to be gone by now (I heard this even after it was shown to be bunk with no data to support it)

        2. The polar ice caps will vanish by 2015!

          *glances at Date/Time on taskbar indicating it’s 2018*

          1. yeah, and now they are making larger and larger numbers of excuses as to why the packs are larger….

      2. My earlier post never showed up (probably because it had a whole bunch of links and got spammed), but if you go to Google and search for:

        “years left” “climate change”

        You’ll learn that we had either eight years left (2007), four years left (2009), five years left (2011), thirty years left (2013) or three years left (2017). Among others.

        It’s been clear for a long time that these people are just making this bullshit up as they go along.

      3. “We have ten years left before climate change panic is irreversible.”


        BTW – I caught an episode of the superb Brit-Com As Time Guys By on the telly this evening and at a cocktail party some twit (she’s introduced as an aroma therapist) is expressing concern over whether to have children and runs through the list of all the things liberally wrong with the world, including “Global Warming” — in an episode* produced in 1992. I honestly don’t recall it being a concern at that time, but then I wasn’t attending London cocktail soirees back then …

        *Episode #2 of the series, starring Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer.

        1. Daily Telegraph – June 12, 2010:

          Certainly, Mrs Thatcher was the first world leader to voice alarm over global warming, back in 1988. With her scientific background, she had fallen under the spell of Sir Crispin Tickell, then our man at the UN ….

          She backed him in the setting up of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988, and promised the Met Office lavish funding for its Hadley Centre, which she opened in 1990, as a world authority on “human-induced climate change” …

          In 2003, towards the end of her last book, Statecraft, in a passage headed “Hot Air and Global Warming”, she issued what amounts to an almost complete recantation of her earlier views …

      4. “Grampa, what were trees?”

        (Yes, I know they dropped that one. It was so stupid they got widely mocked for it, back before the internet, when we were largely isolated.)

  11. The really big items have already been tackled, but here’s my list of other “Facts” That Aren’t So:

    1. Battleships were obsolete by 1940. Wrong…the BBs had night and all-weather capabilities aircraft carriers would not have for another decade.

    2. Gettysburg was the critical battle of the American Civil War. Nope, by that point the Federals were finishing up taking control of the Mississippi River. The Antietam campaign of 1862 was the real critical point – Lee had the Federals strung out, and was about to mass his forces and crush the Army of the Potomac in detail. Then McClellan intercepted Lee’s orders and for one time in his career moved quickly.

    3. Robert Lee was a great general. Not quite – Jackson, Stuart, and Longstreet were arguably superior. Lee would NOT let go of the idea of a great Austerlitz-style knockout punch of a battle, when he needed to have taken the good example of Washington and preserved his fighting power at all costs.

    4. Austerlitz was Napoleon’s masterpiece. Not quite. His crushing of General Mack’s forces at Ulm a month prior was an incredible feat of arms…because he pulled it off with speed, not firepower. Cut Mack off, forced him to surrender.

    5. Bayonets and swords were ineffective weapons, because few were killed with them. Battles aren’t just about the butcher’s bill, but about morale and cohesion. Cold steel doesn’t attack the foe’s body, it attacks his mind. Cracks his resolve, moves him around the battlefield…and forces him to run in disarray. The British Army learned this from the Scots…and having learned it made them the best infantry of the Napoleonic era.

    1. “World War 1 was caused by the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand.”

      I’ve seen variants of that in far too many “authoritative” history books.

      We had WW1 because Wilhelm II wanted “respect.” One excuse was as good as another when the supply chain was in place and the troops were ready to march.

      1. And even that’s a bit simplified. Russia was also determined not to be humiliated again as they were during the Bosnian Crisis. Austria wanted to go to war and destroy the “Serbian viper”, but was afraid of Russia.
        And yes, Willie wanted the fear and respect of the rest of Europe, so he backed Austria to the hilt.
        And so on it goes. Pretty much everyone thought it would be over by Christmas.

        1. Yeah, they pretty much had a higher-order-dimensional version of a Mexican standoff going on in Europe (a “Balkan standoff”?), what with all the interlocking mutual defense treaties and such.

          It just required that someone be the first to pull the trigger, and probably didn’t matter much who that actually was.

        2. Pretty much everyone thought it would be over by Christmas.

          Well, wasn’t it? Just not by the Christmas they’d expected.

      2. Triggered, yes…but very likely to happen in any event. The First World War doesn’t have one reason, it’s got a half-dozen.

        The Austrians fought because the Serbs had killed the heir to the throne. The Russians fought because they didn’t want the Austrians expanding their influence in the Balkans. The Germans fought Russia because they had stiffed their Austrian allies the last crisis, and struck at France because their ONLY war plan (so much for having a General Staff) required it. The French fought to regain Alsace, Lorraine, and pride. The British fought to knock the High Seas Fleet down a notch, and to keep Belgium neutral.

        The real question is why it went on for four years. NOBODY had a rationale worth the bloodbath. Except that the Allied powers were all in a political crisis…and the Communists were circling like sharks. I can make a good case that the Communists were ultimately responsible for the First World War being a bloodbath…and thus for the Second World War and the Cold War (including all its side-wars).

        1. Nah. It was all the fault of the government’s for not acquiescing to the People’s will.

      3. Just because the region was so ready for avalanche that any pebble could have set it off doesn’t change that it was that particular pebble that did so.

        1. True. But the trigger isn’t the whole gun, and certainly isn’t the bullet that kills you.

      4. My favorite explanation was the “kitchen” model, however imprecise:

        “Austria got Hungary, and in the Russian after Turkey, slipped on Greece and broke up China.”

      5. Gettysburg *was* a critical battle in the ACW.
        Just not for the reasons most people think.
        Lee had the Union in a nasty fork. From his dug-in position at Cashtown, he could have advanced on Philidelphia, Baltimore, and Washington all at once.
        The Union army could only defend one of them. Or try to preempt the threat by engaging on fortified ground of Lee’s choosing, with his army dug in, and his artillery registered. (And with Lee able to advance on all three cities in the likely event of failure.)
        Not to mention that Stuart has just devastated the Army of the Potomac’s be supply lines.

        Then the Rebs got themselves sucked into an offensive battle on ground of Meade’s choosing.

        Without Gettysburg, the other battles that would have happened would have been a catastrophe for the Union.

    2. On your number three, I’ll grant you Jackson and maybe Longstreet, but Stuart? The man never could let go of the idea that war was a game, instead of deadly serious business. The moment the Army of the Potomac got together a halfway decent cavalry force, his effectiveness plummeted.

      1. Stuart. He had style…but underneath it was the man who Jackson’s staff recommended be retained in command of Jackson’s corps, the man who won Chancellorsville. Failing to do so was one of Lee’s biggest mistakes.

        As for Federal cavalry, they had an enormous technical advantage. When you’ve got fresh mounts and Spencer carbines, and your opponents have hard-used nags and muzzle-loaders, it’s easy to look good.

        1. I’ve long been of the belief that regardless of ability or prowess at the individual or implement level it is the side with the ‘mostest’ that wins major wars. Your tank can be two or three times better than your enemy’s but if it’s an 8:1 kill ratio and he has 10x tanks he’s going to have the advantage in a battle or campaign.

        2. I’d need to look at Chancellorsville again, but I don’t recall Stuart doing more than a competent job as an infantry corps commander. He was probably better than Ewell, but not as good as Hill.

          As to the Union cavalry’s technical advantages–eh. Brandy Station happened before the horse and gun problems really came into play–and, let me point out, Forrest and Hampton did better against the same odds that Stuart did.

        3. Seconded.
          Despite being scapegoated for Gettysburg, Stuart also had a well-earned reputation for never making a tactical mistake, and for never hesitating to seize an advantage.
          Had Stuart been closer at hand at Chancellorville when Jackson went down, Lee would have had his Austerlitz, and the Army of the Potomac would have been finished. (Likewise if Jackson hadn’t fallen, of course.)

          As for prowess, Stuart turned the tide of the Penninsular Campaign. Forrest and Wheeler never managed such a feat.
          Attacking supply trains and breaking lines of communication, rather than seeking out other calvary to fight, made him most effective.

          1. Not really. Stuart’s famed “ride around McClellan” was an effective reconnaissance, and only really spooked McClellan because he was McClellan. If it had been Meade or even Rosecrans, it would have had little effect.

      2. Anyone want to take a crack what they think the Civil War would’ve been like if Lee had been the head of the Union Army instead of the Confederate? I know that this is OT but I really wanted to ask. I’m not discussing merits of the ACW just asking what if? Damned unlikely but intriguing to me.

        1. Lee probably would have received command of the Army of the Potomac. That army, for whatever reason, didn’t get a halfway decent general until Meade was placed in charge (McClellan was overly cautious. Burnside did a lot of great stuff to make life more bearable for the soldiers, but apparently couldn’t handle command. Hooker froze up in what should have been his big moment. Of course, Meade spent most of his time in command with Grant directly supervising things.). And once the army got its act together, the Army of Northern Virginia spent the rest of the war on the defensive. So having Lee in command of the main Union army at the start likely would have helped.

          That’s not to say that the war would have ended quickly. I suspect that the successes elsewhere were still needed. But the war likely would have ended sooner than it historically did.

          Also, Arlington Cemetery would have been built somewhere else. 😉

          1. Agree 100% with your analysis. If anything, Lee would have made a better commander for the Federals than the Confederates. He was aggressive – perhaps too much so for the South. For the Federals, he would have been eager to throw their superior numbers at the Confederates and grind them down.

            Unless he took Winfield Scott’s advice (which I think failing to do was the biggest mistake of the Federals) and just sat on the Cotton States. Crack the cotton economy, but not shed a lot of blood.

          2. “Of course, Meade spent most of his time in command with Grant directly supervising things.”

            That’s true, but if you look at Meade’s command record between late June 1863 and December 1863, he still comes off a lot better than any of his predecessors. Gettysburg happened less than a week after he took command, his chief of staff hated him, he lost three of his corps commanders (although Sickles was no great loss, Hancock and Reynolds were two of his best (yes, I know Sickles and Hancock didn’t die)), and he managed to pull off the first real victory the Army of the Potomac ever saw. Later, the Mine Run campaign only went south due to one of his corps commanders botching his orders, at which point he refused to order an assault into the teeth of prepared Confederate defenses, a decision vindicated by what happened at Cold Harbor several months later.

            Meanwhile, as to Lee being in command of the main Union army in the East, I’m not sure how that would have worked out. His initial command in West Virginia didn’t work out real well, and I’m not sure how he would have done leading the hodgepodge that was the Union Army at First Bull Run/Manassas. That having been said, he almost certainly would have done better than McDowell.

        2. Short version: wouldn’t have happened.
          Giving that position to a junior officer with loyalties to a state in open rebellion?

          But assuming the politically impossible…
          The Union wins First Manassas (now legitimately called Bull Run) fairly decisively.
          There culture of the South strongly believes in trial by combat. Confederate morale never recovers, and the ACW is ultimately remembered as a larger Whiskey Rebellion.

            1. Yes but Virginia split to a large degree, with some going north to fight for the Union and some going south to fight for the Confederacy. And the exercise in conjecture assumes that Lee fought for the Union, meaning that he had different loyalties in this alternate reality.

          1. You might want to look up George Thomas. Yeah, him being from Virginia was an obstacle, but he still ended up with some significant commands.

      3. Sheridan got into an argument with Meade saying that if he were given his head and a week, he could put an end to Stuart’s being a problem.

        Grant said that he usually knew what he was doing, and let him go do it.

        He ended not only the Confederate cavalry but Stuart himself.

  12. “Mutual Assured Destruction doesn’t work.” We’ve had ICBMs in the ground since the ’50s and haven’t launched one at the Russkis yet. Nor they at us.

    1. Plus, MAD has also limited the size and scope of conventional wars. Korea was the last really big war between nuclear powers, and that was severely limited for fear of triggering a nuclear war.
      Google up Stuart Slade’s “The Nuclear Game” for the positive & negative implications of possessing nukes.

      1. Also, “Star Wars will never work. It is like shooting a bullet with a bullet.” (Actual analogy someone used.)

        1. In the essay, Slade makes the point that a defensive system works best in the minds of the planner. The example used is the British “Moscow Protocol”. Soviet missile defenses caused the Brit nuke strategy to go from targeting @30 cities, into a focused attack on Moscow, and the replacement of some live warheads with decoys.

          1. So a number of additional cities would not be hit by a nuclear deployment than if there were no defenses. Even if defenses are completely ineffective.

            1. Pretty much- the missile defense may or may not work, but you can’t take that chance. So you got to switch some of your limited number of warheads from the lower priority targets to the higher priority targets.
              The more the better, because you want to overwhelm the defensive systems as much as possible.
              Which means your priority target will probably get overkill, but the rest of the country might be spared.

              1. … your priority target will probably get overkill, but the rest of the country might be spared.

                So it is more likely that the DC area is wiped out but the rest of the country survives a first strike?


        2. There’s an article in the April/May issue of Air & Space Smithsonian, page 22, “The First Space Ace” which describes shooting down a satellite with a missile from an F-15 on September 13, 1985.

          1. I am aware of them, but they were then saying it was largely impossible to shoot down a missile with a missile

        3. The first Iraq war pretty thoroughly debunked that. and of course Israel’s Iron Dome never works.

        4. That quip always makes me chuckle, but not the way the person using hopes. Hitting a bullet with a bullet is a basic ballistics problem, and simple ballistics is on of the first things they teach you in physics. Literally any sophomore physics major could solve that problem. The trick is solving it fast enough to do any good, not much of a problem with ICBM’s that take half an hour to get to their target, and factoring in wind resistance.

    2. The reason we pursued that policy with the Soviets? It worked on Hitler, and Hitler was really nuts.

  13. “Religion Will Be Gone in 10-20 years”.

    Been hearing that most of my life. 😉

    1. pfft
      I notice most of those who make that claim have “religion” of a different sort.
      Marxim being the biggest church with CAGW a subsidiary.

    2. Religion will Never be gone. Which religion may change. How many people are religious can change. But there will always be a religion. Marxism is a Christian heresy.

  14. I’m thinking that commonly accepted ideas in the medical and allied health fields are going to be proven wrong in the next decade or so. Allergies in particular — there’s some very interesting research of late that suggests that our understanding of the immune system and its malfunctions may well be fundamentally wrong. But there are also some very interesting developments in neurology that may completely upend the accepted explanations of a variety of mental processes and problems, from Alzheimer’s to learning disabilities. Things that were looked at in isolation suddenly turning out to be related, and things that had been lumped under a common label turning out to have completely different root causes and needing different treatments.

    1. Everything Americans were told about nutrition and weight for the past 50 years or so has turned out to be 180 degrees wrong – really rough for people trying to lose weight who’ve been told it’s all their own fault.

      1. I’m waiting for them to find out that it’s mostly a matter of gut bacteria. The social repercussions of THAT will be the biggest thing since Viagra (and if you don’t think Viagra had social repercussions, you weren’t a man living prior to the 1980s).

        1. Probiotics has already been a fad. Along with … what’s it called? “Fecal something or other”?

          Not to say either of those have no benefits. But they have already hit their fad stages.

    2. Considering how many people I seem to run across who are dealing with one or both, this is really interesting….

  15. Statistics related to cause of death or injury.

    That one got rubbed in my face several times:
    I’ve mentioned it before, first autopsy ruled out foul play, poisoning, and all signs of drug or alcohol abuse. Second one, magically done along with the rest of the months-long backlog the night before Christmas break: chronic alcohol abuse. Which, amazingly, that area is now having a very well funded fight against that “crisis”.
    Got to talking with DEA folks; they are pissed at the “opioid crisis” because it’s not so much “opioids” as fentanyl derivatives and heroin, so the flip out about oxy is freaking useless.
    My mom’s summer job in college was fire fighter on the forest. She saw a lot of the temperature records being written down. Sometimes several weeks in the ten minutes before the guy picking up the records got there, sometimes just “when they remembered to check the thermometer.”

    Much less excusable is the, well, at best well-intentioned lies when folks report statistics.
    The raw number of traffic deaths has been going down. For decades, now, it will spike up a little, then drop. (Source: Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), which became operational in 1975, contains data on a census of fatal traffic crashes within the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. To be included in FARS, a crash must involve a motor vehicle traveling on a trafficway customarily open to the public, and must result in the death of an occupant of a vehicle or a nonmotorist within 30 days of the crash.) Pointing this out because 79 and 80 were the two highest fatal crash years on record, and it keeps going down, bubble up but not all the way back, drop down again, etc.)
    Cellphones were only used by any driver involved in a fatal accident 500 times, out of over 30k. No record of how many of those were at fault, either. For comparison, over 5k pedestrians were killed– if only one in five of those were jaywalking, that’s twice as dangerous. Where’s the massive PSA on par with “hang up and drive” or “SEE motorcycles”? (it’s 70% that aren’t at intersections) There’s a listing for “looked but didn’t see.” It’s two thirds the size of the “distracted by cellphone” number. “Failure to signal” is also much more common.

    Pretty much anything related to Catholic Church history has been badly mangled, usually via someone getting English sensationalist pamphlets and thinking they were good sources. (not always, obviously)

    I’m not sure if it’s an “Everyone knows” that is false, but I have noticed that a lot of studies on criminality ignore persistent offender/three strike laws being put in place.

    1. On the related note of U.S. crime statistics, reading Facebook, “Everyone” seems to know the opposite of the truth, which is that the homicide rate has been decreasing for decades, the gun homicide rate has been decreasing for decades, mass shootings have been decreasing for decades, schools are safer now than they were in the 90s, crime rates have been decreasing since the 90s, etc…

      We’re currently at around a 55-year minimum on all those stats, yet somehow (ok, media reports availability bias driven is how) people think there is a dramatic crisis going on…

      On a semi-related note, per capita and adjusted for inflation government revenue is up by several multiples in the last 60 years, it’s just that government spending measured the same way is up even more. Our government budget deficit/debt problem is entirely a spending increase problem, not a revenue issue.

      1. Oooh, nice– I knew the homicide RATE was down, with occasional hops back up before dropping down from the high years of the early 90s, but you’re correct– the current gross number of murders is from one of the lower years in the 70s*, even though we’ve half again the population.
        And I suspect that those spikes are at least partly artificial, because I know the three strike’s laws started out big right when there was a BIG drop in the 90s (unexpectedly!) and that they seem to get pulled out and dusted off each time folks get really pissed because someone died from a habitual violent criminal. (Looks meaningfully at Parkland, FL.)

        * Seeing as how the system would’ve been very paper heavy into the 60s, the homicide rate may not have been that low. I wasn’t around, but it seems like the 70s is riiiiight about when they were able to automate a lot of that.

      2. “We’re currently at around a 55-year minimum on all those stats, yet somehow (ok, media reports availability bias driven is how) people think there is a dramatic crisis going on…”

        Care to explain why those government statistics are more reliable???

        There are a number of indicators that say otherwise; it’s starting to be reported (and documented with video) that certain cities are simply refusing to investigate theft below $500 – $1000. Likewise, it’s been surfaced that certain groups are not being charged to keep them from being deported, or to compensate for “institutional racism”, etc.

  16. Sorry, but I don’t come here for exercise, I come for the open bar and lunch buffet.

    If I must point at something and declare it just ain’t so I guess it would be the ideas many have about economics.

    1. Absolutely! If economics was a science, economists could tell us how to end a recession. Even better, they could tell us how to keep one from starting. But they can’t. Not a single time in my life. My conclusion? Macroeconomics is entrails reading at best, outright fraud at worst.

      1. It’s probably more like astronomy. You can’t eliminate business cycles but you can make things better or worse. Economics is a social science.

      2. I’d group it as a sub-unit of psychology– it’s mass psychology with a focus on exchange related behavior.

        Psychology is notoriously hard to work like a hard science. (Not that most sciences involving humans aren’t difficult, because of obvious moral and life-span issues.)

        1. Oh, third reason it’s hard, the scientists aren’t orders of magnitude more intelligent than what they study, they’re part of what they study.

        2. The USSR had complete control of its economy, top to bottom. Educated and informed specialists determined mining, planting, processing, fabrication, transport, shop space, retail prices… none of that economic chaos of the capitalist countries. With each part of the economy carefully matched to the next, the Soviet Union’s economic woes were the major part of its downfall.

          Some things, the more you try to control them, the more chaotic they become. The USA, with expanding regulatory capture and bureaucracy, is heading down that road. Because it’ll work *this* time! We’re professionals, not like those other professionals…

          1. There was one thing they couldn’t control– people.

            People have trouble controlling themselves– and they’re supposed to successfully control others?


  17. I think a lot of people think that reporters have resources that aren’t available to regular people, and that they have some kind of training that helps them. None of that’s true. There are no reporter-only resources (not officially, anyway) and the special training is just practicing writing.

    About the only thing a reporter can do that other people can’t is devote a lot of time to research, since that’s their job. So if you see a news story with glaring errors, that reporter has been doing something else with his time than research. Spending a lot of time covering one topic (like sports or politics) can lead to relationships between reporters and the subjects of their stories, but that’s actually considered a problem rather than a plus by truly objective reporters.

    In short, reporters do nothing that regular people can’t do. You don’t need a license to publish news. Getting information from blogs instead of established sources is perfectly fine. Verify information yourself when you can, and check multiple sources. It’s surprising how often mainstream media uses each other as verification, which is why I think the accuracy of reporting has suffered. And often different news organizations base their independent but identical stories on the same source. This gives viewers the impression that the story is accurate because everyone is saying the same thing, but it’s not necessarily so.

    1. Get local papers from towns and cities in ten states. All will have the same errors because they all work off/repackage the AP

      1. And all ran nearly identical editorials mocking the recent Sinclair editorial statement about fake news.

      2. Oh man. Don’t get me started on the news. So many times while I was stationed overseas, if you wanted the truth, you had to read/watch/listen to the local national’s news. Stars and Stripes and Armed Forces radio and TV only told you what the brassholes wanted you to ‘know’. And when I compared what the American news media was saying the papers when I got my weekly box of them from family, they didn’t resemble anything like what was really going on.

        And now I see a report on Fox & MSNBC that the Syrian government is allegedly using gas attacks again. Riiiight. One week after Trump announces that we’re pulling out of Syria within the next 6 months and suddenly there’s an attack of the nature that’s guarranteed to put our noses into it? When we know the Syrian government really doesn’t want us there? The last one I had reasonable doubts about Assad’s forces using gas, but wasn’t sure one way or the other. This time? Ain’t buying it.

        1. We do know he’s got, and used, gas before– but we also know his control is shaky.

          Bets on someone being absolutely willing to use Trump to remove him?

          Or that Russia wouldn’t do it so they have an excuse to dump his @#$#?

    2. Reporters have layers and layers of editors. All of whom were laid off or took early retirement long ago. Now they have college interns who don’t even know Jesus died, much less why, editing and fact-checking.

      1. Anglo cismale oppression is highly stressful for the Hispanic population, which can result in lower quality of life and a shorter lifespan. It is our duty to educate the populace on this important subject, and to lobby for Federal regulation and funding to deal with it. We will print a lengthy feature series on the subject soon!

    3. Most of what you said is correct, but this has some nuances:
      “I think a lot of people think that reporters have resources that aren’t available to regular people, and that they have some kind of training that helps them. None of that’s true. ”

      They have access to leakers in government and other orgs, which regular people don’t, and they are trained by example in obfuscation and spin.

      1. I agree that reporters have access to leakers, but as I said, this special access *should* be seen as a negative by the reporter, and it only exists because the reporter is a conduit for publication for the leaker while maintaining his anonymity. It’s not hard for reporters to understand that, but for some reason I don’t know, a good number of them don’t see it.

        Now that *everyone* has the ability to publish, it’s even more inexcusable to publish leaks “for the cause of Truth.” If you do it you’ve taken a side. And that’s okay unless you claim you haven’t.

        This is also why I think it’s reasonable for society to treat social media as common carriers. It’s how they’re being used.

        1. The “fun” part of Anonymous Sources is that we have no way to know if the “reporter” just pulled the “information” out of his own rear end.

          1. Sources say* that many world leaders** express great*** concern over turmoil**** in the Trump White House.

            *I asked the guy on the next bar stool

            **I asked for a show of hands in the International House of Pancakes

            ***I asked them to raise both hands if they were greatly concerned

            ****I checked with Chuck Schumer’s assistant chief of staff’s doorman if the word of the day was chaos or turmoil and xi said “turmoil.”

  18. “Everyone wants the best for their kids”. It took me years to realize that is a lie, and deal with parents realistically. 😦

  19. “Nuclear power can’t be done safely.”
    “Nuclear waste that remains a public hazard for 10000 years is an inevitable consequence of nuclear power.”

    My sense is that Americans’ knowledge of nuclear power comes primarily from The Simpsons.

      1. China Syndrome would have quietly sunk into oblivion had TMI not happened near it’s release date. Silkwood actually was surprisingly well done from a radiological standpoint, but was subtle enough that unless you were in the industry you probably missed it.

      2. The China Syndrome movie, along with the bonehead control room moves that caused Three Mile Island, killed off any new nuclear power plants in the US until basically the present day. Even Chernobyl didn’t cause as much angst as that movie.

        And Fukushima hysteria has now killed it off in Europe, leaving all the nuke plants that the Chinese are cleverly building so they can get off of coal.

        1. “Don’t worry; renewable energy from sun and wind will supply all of our energy needs.”

          When the sun burns out.

          1. “We have this new solar panel that’s made entirely of renewable organic materials. It’s so efficient that a foot-square panel can provide enough electricity to operate an SUV.”

            “Really? When can I buy one?”

            “We still have a few bugs to work out, but we expect them on the market within ten years.”

            1. Reminds me. I need to start preparing the ground for my self-replicating, 100% organic solar energy converters so I can have plenty of fresh vegetables this summer.

    1. “Nuclear waste that has a half-life of umpteen billion kajillion zillion years is ultra-hazardous”.

      No. The longer the half-life, the less radioactive the substance is. By definition.

      Imagine how dangerous something with an infinite half-life would be! Oh, right. That’s just another way of saying “not radioactive at all”.

  20. IQ doesn’t matter
    IQ can’t really be measured
    IQ isn’t real

    All 3 of the above are commonly held beliefs that are false.

    The biggest?

    Liberal Democrats really care about the little people and want to help them.

  21. 1) Three Mile Island showed that nuclear power was unsafe.

    The reality is that pretty much everything that could go wrong with a nuclear reactor did. At the same time. The containment design was robust enough that nobody was in any serious danger. The take away from that (aside from the lessons learned to prevent it from happening again) should have been that we know how to keep people safe from the hazards of nuclear power.

    2) “Failsafe” means that it can’t fail.

    3) Radiation is artificial, or the corollary that radiation from man-made sources is especially harmful.

    4) There’s no safe level of radiation exposure. (This one we don’t know for sure if it’s true or not, but I suspect it isn’t)

    1. You didn’t mention that the operators did everything possible they could to cause the reactors to meltdown- and failed because of the built-in safeties.

      Starting with their failure to believe the instruments. They saw temperature readings pegged high and decided the instrumentation was failing. No- the readings were pegged high because they were higher then the calibration…

      Something I was taught in many Navy schools- believe your instruments unless you can prove they are wrong.

      1. I included operators taking exactly the wrong action in “everything that could go wrong.”

        One of the stories I heard was the on-shift operators called a senior engineer at home to try and make sense of the readings they were getting. His response was something along the lines of “You’re about to have a meltdown, start a damned pump right now!”

        That was one of the things that stood out to me reading about the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Apparently they had two gages reading pressure at the wellhead. One of them read normal while the other was well into the “WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!” range. They thought the second gage was faulty. It turns out the first gage was isolated from the wellhead and wasn’t actually reading anything.

      2. Consider the kind of people nuke plants want to hire. Highly educated people with degrees in physics, chemistry, or electronic engineering. Who are willing to deal with the bureaucracy, make-work, soul-crushing boredom, and nearly static environment of working at a public utility.

        The system is going to self-select an organization low on motivation, high on following procedures, and very high on passing the buck and CYA.

        “The core is overheating! Shouldn’t you do something?!”

        :”I’m filling out this report form, as required by the regulation book. What else is there to be done?”

    2. For #4, you know that if it is true, then it is also impossible to be safe. (because radiation is everywhere– heck, IIRC, this is such common knowledge that it popped up in Star Trek: Deep Space 9. The Changelings don’t emit radiation.)

      So sort of like folks thinking that “safe” means “there is no possible way for you to die.”
      There’s always a way you can die, from “just dropped dead” to freak accidents to more normal risks.

      1. Dixie Lee Ray, former director of the Atomic Energy Commission, got shouted down when she mentioned that a typical coal-fired power plant emits multiples of the maximum allowed radiation from an atomic power plant.

        1. In one of her books, she pointed out that by the late 80s standards of the EPA and NRA (nukes, not teachers), a human body should be considered low-level nuclear waste requiring burying in steel/glass/concrete containment.

          1. It’s no different than lots of the hazmat levels like lead, arsenic and similar. The levels decrease because the detection gets better, not because it’s actually a threat to average person.

        2. “Shouting down opposition arguments proves they’re wrong.”

          Besides, they”re now shutting down coal-fired plants, too, so it doesn’t matter.

      2. Most people don’t realize that everything is radioactive. There’s probably a few thousand hours of YouTube videos of people taking the Geiger counters they just bought off the internet and showing how radioactive some everyday object is – the one I remember is a guy wiped his truck after a rainstorm in Kansas City and was going on about how the presence of alpha radiations meant that the Fukushima fallout was reaching us and we’re all going to die and the government was keeping it all from us to prevent panic.

        The people who do figure out that radiation is everywhere tend to think that radiation from nuclear plants is somehow more dangerous than the radiation from everything else.

    3. > The reality is that pretty much everything that could go wrong with a nuclear reactor did.

      Fukushima even more so.

      1) Magnitude 9 earthquake
      2) Devastating Tsunami
      3) Loss of power to all control systems
      4) Fires and gas explosions.

      And not one person died from radiation effects. Not one.

      1. And a reactor that was iirc in process of retirement and four generations behind current ones.

        1. Note that last point: The damn thing blew up, and still no deaths.

          Still, Fukushima did draw Gojira out again (or at least Gojira’s prey animals, per the original script treatment from the latest movie, which in my book has a big thumbs up for thoroughly trashing San Francisco). I understand why they had to change it, as the Fukushima Disaster was and remains a very sensitive subject in Japan.

      2. And… I do recall an article (slashdot?) about a reactor of similar if not identical design that was also in the tsunami zone, BUT an engineer there was a huge PITA about having a wall tall enough to handle a “500 year” or whatever water level. So… nothing happened.

      3. At least Fukushima didn’t have operators deliberately shut down important safety equipment.

    4. I recall doing a report in HS about the Three Mile Island accident. Not only was it an exercise in Murphy’s Law, it occurred in a facility that was built within tweny years of the introduction of commercial nuclear power. The relevant engineering practices have arguably improved in the 50 years since that plant was designed.

      In nuclear physics class in college, with a quantitative analysis of the processes, intermediate and waste products, side-effects, energy released, and so on, directly in front of us, the typical student reaction in my class was “Why aren’t we building more nuclear power plants? Shouldn’t this be our primary power source?”

      1. I really want to go to a Greenpeace meeting and point out to them that if we replaced the local coal plants with nuclear plants we’d lower the amount of radiation emitted into the environment substantially.

    5. I have also seen folks who think Chernobyl had the same kind of reactor as Three Mile.
      Also have met people who think there is no natural background radiation.

        1. My first job after college was working for a nuclear power consultant, with lots of contracts on Three Mile Island, so to keep my head from hurting when this topic comes up I’ve invested in a Nerf Desk.

          1. as this often comes from the same types of buffoon who say things like “You can’t trust any politician. They all are lying s.o.b.” followed minutes later with “If I paid 4 to 7 percent more in taxes and didn’t have to worry about health insurance, I’d be fine with that.” one learns quickly to never take anything they say worth the air expended to make the noises

            1. I can’t help but notice that “all politicians are lying SOBs” only happens when theirs get caught lying.

              If someone they oppose so much as has different judgement from them, or is accused of falsehood, then it’s totally unacceptable and They Must Go.

              1. the fool that came from was whining about a local raise in property taxes for roads, after they raised them previously and never did what they claimed to want the money for, and said even if they get the new taxes the roads in the county were gonna stay crap. Minutes later said the nonsense about gladly paying more for health care single payer and waved off the “I thought you said you can’t trust the gov’t or any politicians?” Fat, loud and stupid is a poor way to go through life.
                Glad he works a different shift and I only have to deal with him for a half hour usually to an hour and a half if I do OT.

  22. Whole grains and fruit as your main food sources are good for you. Fat is bad. Salt is bad. You can exercise enough to lose weight.
    You can get justice in Court.
    Money is a store of value.
    The Fed keeps prices stable.
    College will get you a good job.
    Almost any public perception of risk.
    People of all races and cultures are at heart the same.
    Children and women never lie.
    If you turn on your turn signal people will let you over.
    You get what you pay for.
    The shoe will be comfortable after it breaks in.
    You can’t eat gold so it is worthless.
    Just shoot in the air and criminals will run away.
    Diamonds are rare.
    If it wasn’t true they couldn’t print it.
    That will buff out.
    Some dog breeds are killers, some won’t hurt a fly.
    Drugs and food turn to rat poison on the expiration date.
    Speed limits are to protect you.
    Alcohol in gasoline saves you money.
    Frozen fish are as good as fresh.
    TV commercials aren’t louder, everybody is just screaming.
    You should ask your doctor if you need that drug.
    Extra virgin olive oil is better.
    Diet pop is good for you.
    Cologne can substitute for deodorant.
    Tap water is safe, and fluoride is good for you.
    Calories are calories no matter the source.
    I won’t tell a soul.
    The government doesn’t spy on you.
    It’s unbreakable.
    We improved the software.

  23. The Middle Ages thought the world was flat.

    No, the not only know it was round, but had a reasonably close estimation of the size of it.

        1. Right: They knew he’d screwed up his sums, so he had to go get money from Isabella, not known then or now as a wizard in math.

      1. I’ll give the Admiral a pass. He figured out the trade winds. And probably would not have pressed on as far as he did were he not picking up indications of land.

      2. Well, there was a mathematician just before Columbus’ time (Toscanelli..?) who thought the world was smaller than it is and my understanding is that Columbus was following him. Supposedly – this part is a bit out there – Toscanelli had access to Portuguese maps that failed to show the bulge in Africa because whoever was sailing down the African coast wasn’t good at longitude. This made the earth smaller….

        1. He was. Samuel Eliot Morison’s, “Admiral of the Ocean Sea,” goes into detail on why Columbus thought China was about 3,000 nm East of Europe.

      3. Let us be just. He did know that things would wash up on the Canary Islands that indicated landmasses where plants could grow that were not so far as China actually is.

        1. Well Lee Kwan Yew who was Singapore’s PM on the 60s and 70s imposed the Stop at 2 policy and estalished the graduate mom’s policy. Yhecresult is the 2 or 3rd lowest fertility rate on Asia which prompted the population replacement immigration policy.
          Just before his hea6h Lee Kwan Yew finally conceded the stop at 2 was a mistake. Yeah good to
          it took him 30 years to recognize this

          1. Sorry it posted on the wrong thread about IQ

            Ullola famous historian of Columbus in Spanish held that he had secret info from previous sailors who made it to the new world. That’s why he was so confident

              1. Nod, I’ve heard speculation concerning that he knew “something” was there.

    1. Yep, most educated people of the time knew that the distance Columbus thought he had to travel to get to China was badly off (and they were correct).

  24. My ancestors had their names changed at Ellis Island because the clerks couldn’t spell/pronounce it.

    No. Passenger lists had to matched up to documents and to the intake clerk records. No changing occurred. Maybe afterwards, they might have chosen to Americanize, simplify or phonetically spell it, or outright change it, but it wasn’t at Ellis Islands. Bureaucrats don’t want their paperwork messed up.

    1. I do know of someone who’s ancestor told the intake clerk to record the name as Davis instead of Davi[lots of consonants] because the ancestor was terrified of getting caught in another pogrom. The clerk complied.

  25. Pretty much any conventional “everyone knows that” knowledge about farming is a giant steaming pile of wrongness. Especially when it comes to the care and handling of livestock.

    1. Hmmm… Talked to a farmer recently. According to the food and safety bureaucrats if they see an animal crap in their field, they’re supposed to mark where it happened, make a circle around it (I forget the radius) and any plant within that radius is not supposed to be harvested for human consumption. Needless to say- no farmer looks for the animals crapping in their fields. I sincerely doubt anything could be harvested under that rule.

      The rule shows a complete ignorance of what fertilizer is…

      1. I suspect that one is to keep folks who practice folk-organic farming from poisoning vast numbers. Not that it assures it will be used that way.

        It’s freaking horrifying how many people want to grow “all natural food” and don’t realize poop is a disease vector. (My mom is one of the folks who straightens them out by teaching them how to “cook” the fertilizer, which also helps prevent it from burning plants or spreading weeds. She piles up the bull fields each spring, turns over the one from the year before, and hands out the stuff from two years ago each year. It works to teach them)

        1. Yep, there was a big E coli outbreak in apple juice back when, because deer pooped under apple trees on the edge of orchards, and the farmers were gathering windfalls that had landed on the scat. (Only one orchard, as the others knew better than to use windfalls for apple juice. And it still would have been okay if the apple juice had been pasteurized.)

    2. Same with pets. Insert canned rant about how “pet overpopulation” is basically a scam to get rid of domestic breeders of purpose-bred dogs and cats, in favor of cheap imported “rescues” sold at a spectacular profit.

      1. Yet it allows rich people to get well bred animals from “responsible breeders.” By basically defining “responsible” as professional show pets.

  26. Having a museum docent tell a class about the lost art of “lost wax casting,” that we no longer know how to do…

    On Sat, Apr 7, 2018 at 9:35 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

    > accordingtohoyt posted: “Okay, I forgot to post till now, mostly because I > was doing art, I’m sorry. Husband woke up and I remembered “oh, shoot, > blog.” But yesterday’s discussion on “why should we believe the UN on > population when we don’t believe them on anything else?” made ” >

      1. Disturbing that level of derp might be dangerous.

        I’m pretty sure that “How It’s Made” has multiple episodes that involve Lost Wax method, the one that I can remember is how they make fire places. (the pretty ones, obviously– with all that fancy filigree–e stuff.)

        1. there’s frikken youtube videos with amateurs demonstrating lost wax (and lost plastic and lost styrafoam) casting

    1. GM’s Saturn division used lost foam casting for engines and drive train elements. Lost art, my left eye!

    2. Jeweler-son says the problem is ignorant people getting the hyphenation wrong, thinking it’s the “lost wax-process” instead of the “lost-wax process.”

    3. Having an art museum docent claim that the American entry into WW I was eased by having trained troops available from the Mexican-American war. I guess Black Jack Pershing was the hero of Chapultepec . . .

      ‘Course, the operative term there is ‘art museum docent’.

  27. The giving of foreign aid and development money to the 3rd world.
    Truth is, it often makes things worse, and seriously hinders actual organic development.
    -First, a good portion of the funds are just skimmed into the pockets of the various kelptocrats. Other monies are spent on “prestige” projects that don’t benefit the people in the least, excepting political cronies who own interest in the various contracted companies.
    -Then, the development projects themselves are received by the people pretty much no enthusiasm, because it’s something that an outsider is paying to force them to participate in. Once the project is turned over to the locals, it just dies out for a lack of interest, unless the outsider continues to provide funds and management.
    -Then, cheap food aid will often destroy local agriculture. Why work hard to grub out crops when the same thing is available for free?
    -An entitlement mentality will often ensue, especially in regards to the “free” stuff. Why spend that nice, easily skimmable money on maintaining a road or hospital that someone else built? Just let things fall apart, and someone else will come along and build a new one for you.

  28. And on a more domestic note, the idea that every child is a special snowflake who needs to be sheltered and protected as long as possible.
    Ugh. Which has lead to our current generation of spoiled and entitled brats.

    1. Eh, that’s just a standard Liberal “values neutral” reaction to the prior theory– that innocence was a bad thing to be eliminated– had a predictable result.

      See also, sex as an inherent good, probably the ultimate good, and if you didn’t like random hookups it was due to “repression” which you needed to “get over”….which we all are familiar with the horrific fruits of, Sarah’s even done a couple of articles on the horror of it, along with Moira Greyland.
      Which turned out really poorly, so now there’s a counter-reaction, and…oh, gads, what a mess.

      GI:GO; they’ve got to define “protection” as “not disturbed in any way,” rather than exercising any judgement on if something is a thing where the kid needs to be discomforted, or if the kid being uncomfortable is a giant red “STOP NOW” sign.

      1. Saying that the woman involved exercised poor judgement is victim blaming!

        And it’s always the male’s fault.

        1. Even when the woman is saying “this was dumb, I knew it was dumb, I shouldn’t have listened to those folks who told me to do it, don’t make the same mistake I did.”

          Possibly even more “victim-blaming” than someone saying “dude, that’s dangerous, don’t do it” and then you do it and you get hurt.

    2. Then there’s the idea that a victim can possess “indisputable moral authority” — which is “true” only when said victim is pushing a Progressive lie.

  29. Totalitarian government is efficient. (Not sure that is widespread, it is wrong.) Who is the more efficient killer, a PCP berserker, or a Colonel of Infantry? Totalitarian government is cognate to the guy strung out on PCP breaking his bones on a wall.

    That socialized medicine and eugenics don’t fit hand in glove.

    That the killing of LGBT couldn’t be easily justified under socialized medicine.

    Educational spending is an investment.

    That controls theory, information science, and thermodynamics don’t pretty strongly suggest that centralized government management of large population activities is garbage.

    Gun control is about more than commies pining away over their inability to commit mass murder.

    That there is such a thing as a harmless panacea in medicinal chemistry.

    That very many people from modern schools have any real understanding of the proper historical context of segregation.

    That republic and democracy are synonyms.

    That ‘a computer model said so’, ‘a scientist said so’, or ‘an engineer said so’ mean anything at all without verification.

    1. That there is such a thing as a harmless panacea in medicinal chemistry.

      Or that placebos have no benefits.

      1. Given the current multi-tasking interdenominational military chaplain’s duties it helps ensure non-partisan counselling.

          1. Somebody has to be there to reassure them that there is no God and nobody cares what happens to them and that what war crimes they might commit simply don’t matter in the long run. Without such support soldiers are at grave risk of thinking that it might not be okay to shoot civilians, rape women or flee in the face of the enemy.

  30. The hole in the ozone is caused by hair spay and leaky air conditioners..

    You believe that right? I did too for the longest time. The the crusty old guy who worked on my heating system spent the better part of an hour lecturing me about how the insane policy of outlawing CFCs to save the ozone was complete nonsense and costing American consumers billions. After listening to him, I did some of my own research and came to a similar conclusion.

    When you read the ‘science’ of it and think about how much it sounds like how global warming / cooling / climate change was sold, you begin to hear similar overtones. The hole in the ozone expands and contracts seasonally, probably in response to that big glowing ball at the center of our solar system. The ability to measure the thing, especially given the technical capabilities at the time the ban went I to effect, were highly suspect.

    And yet, no one even questions it now. Think about how much that one policy change has effected the air conditioned western world. My theory is it’s success is what embolded the global warming crowd.

  31. Pick your poison:

    “Spanking is always the parent beating the tar out of the child and always destroys children.”

    “I was spanked and turned out fine therefore there is no problem whatsoever.”

    Both of those drive me up the wall. I think I’ll not touch the nuke stuff…. I don’t need to go up to the ceiling.

    1. More like, your kid would have turned out just as warped as the rest of us regardless of whether or not you spanked him. But because you spanked him when he needed it, he survived long enough to be warped like the rest of us.

  32. 1998 was the warmest year ever.
    Also: What ever year they say “Warmest Summer Evar!!!1!1shift1!”
    then several months later it reverts back to being 1998 or 2000something (depends on who is doing the claims) yet the planet has been far warmer than right now. far colder too.
    I’d rather warmer. Cold Kills.

    1. There is no place on Earth hot enough to kill an unprotected human. But most of the land area gets cold enough to do the job,

        1. iirc, Death Valley isn’t even that bad on the list of “places that are way too hot”. But even the hottest places on Earth can support a human population. But Antarctica can’t.

  33. The food pyramid and the “calories in, calories out” oversimplification of human metabolism and weight gain.

    1. The “calorie” thing in general.

      I had thought they fed and weighed lab rats or something. Then I found out they burned samples and measured the heat value. Which is why over the decades, the calorie charts have moved greasy or oily foods up higher than on the old charts. The charts changed again after they quit burning food and just “estimated” the heat value of different chemical components of the food. That is, the calorie numbers are either irrelevant or made up. But there’s so much money riding on the numbers, nobody is willing to rock the boat.

  34. On a technical level, the idea that wings work because of pressure (the ‘air goes faster over the top and lowers pressure’) explanation. While true the force vectors applied on the wing to ‘turn’ the airstream are a significant second component of lift and make flight practical. The ‘blow over the top of a paper to show how planes fly’ is a significant simplification.

    Societally, the idea that certain jobs are ‘special’. A firefighter, cop, or teacher all make the choice to take the job they do because of their own calculation of risk vs reward. Doing your job is not heroic, it is merely the expectation. Bringing the act of doing a job to a level of heroic serves to lessen the actual heroic efforts where persons deal with a situation where they do not have sufficient gear to make a job ‘routine’ (E.g. a cop or bystander going into a fire/smoke situation to extract a child if done intelligently is much different than a Search team of trained and equipped FF’s). And government teachers are no more or less important that folks that control utility flow, repair and install pipe, or collect refuse. Budgets are finite and there will be compromises for everyone.

    1. You know what makes airplanes fly? Money. Lots of money. No Bucks, No Buck Rogers. (The First Law of Flight Test, BTW)

      1. I second this notion. And the plane will not fly until the weight of the paperwork equals or exceeds that of the fully fueled and supplied aircraft.

        1. Slightly different note. Back in the early 70s, the company I interned for was providing structural steel for a nuclear power plant in Toledo. (Davis-Besse, if memory serves.) Each truckload of material (columns, curb angles and such) had to have a lot of paper work (multiple copies of the blueline drawings, chemical and physical certs for each piece of steel, and so on). I’m guessing about 20 pounds of paper for each load. (Maybe not bad; we got 50,000 pounds maximum on a trailer.) I spent a lot of time keeping track of the steel used for each, down to stamping anchor bolts with codes attesting that yes, this bolt used that piece of steel, and here are the certs. The accuracy of the usage will be left to the student; the accounting system was, er, imperfect.

          When the second phase of the building came up for bid, we adjusted ours to reflect the time and paper costs for the program. We were underbid and lost. The kicker: the winning bidder shipped his load all at once; 7 truckloads of steel. No papers. It all came back. Damfool didn’t notice the paperwork requirement.

  35. The Democrats were the driving force behind the civil rights movement. When it was the Republicans that supported the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1964 & 1968 in higher percentages.

    Corollary: The parties switched sides in year. Sure, I’ll believe that when you can show me a statistically significant number of legislators that switched parties after year because of policy changes, or show me the legislators that changed their votes from one year to the next on similar legislation.

      1. But they hate it when you inform them that if JFK were alive today he’d be a tax-slashing, defense spending, Commie-hating Republican.

        1. Ignorant, not idiots.

          I never thought of it when I was in school, honestly, and they managed to totally remove any mention of Democrat or Republican parties. Didn’t find out until folks started getting a bit heavy on the KKK thing, and folks countered by pointing out the KKK were Dems.

          I was mostly under the impression that the parties we have now had come to be about the late 60s, since they were only mentioned then, and any parties mentioned before had totally different names. Didn’t do much on FDR, so that didn’t get complicated.

          1. The books I had praised the Democrats to the heavens. All the good things in America came from the Democrats. They just didn’t bother to mention any other parties by name. I’m not sure they mentioned any other parties at all.

            1. That might also explain why so many people think we’re a raw democracy– I can remember a few mentions of groups that were like “Christian Democrats” and weren’t there “Democrat-Republicans” or something?

          2. Back in Junior High we had to do biographical reports on various people. I got FDR. One of the books in our library was quite overt in it’s praise of him. Not just the ‘New Deal saved the country and employed all those laid off after the disastrous Republican policies that created the Great Depression’, but also ‘the internment of Japanese Americans was needed and justified by the hostility of the Japanese.’

            Now, to impressionable 13 year old, that was something easy to buy into. It wasn’t until later I heard about how FDR’s fiscal policies likely prolonged the Great Depression. My grandparents grew up during that time and were of mixed views on FDR, so any discussions were either very short, or devolved into heated arguments that had nothing to do with what I asked.

            I was never comfortable with the internment, but when I got to college and looked into it more, it really became abominable. I also learned about the incarceration of German Americans earlier during WWI, which just also happened to be imposed by a Democrat.

            1. I relatively recently found out that German and Italian citizens, along with first-generation Americans from that background, were also in camps.

              The Japanese just had a really high rate of still-living-relatives-in-Japan, and though I dislike FDR, he DID have an example of an American who was also Japanese flipping over to support the Japanese when told about the attack on Pearl Harbor by one of the guys who did it. Does kind of point to a philosophical issue. (I’d guess the philosophy issue is “it’s cool to torture the family of ‘traitors’,” but who knows what they figured.)

            2. Earl Warren, another popular progressive icon, was also up to his eyeballs in the Japanese internment. He was governor of California at the time, and enthusiastically involved himself in it.

              The Nisei living in California had it a lot worse than those living in Hawaii (the states that had – by far – the two largest concentrations of Nisei). Though given the difference in living space and environmental conditions between Hawaii and California, this is perhaps somewhat understandable. Hawaii doesn’t exactly lend itself to internment camps. This made for an interesting contrast when the more enthusiastic members of the 442nd RCT (the all-Nisei unit that served – and served VERY well – in Italy) from Hawaii met their somewhat less happy counterparts from California (who had all come from the camps) for the first time.

    1. And one of the first Hollywood celebs to support the Civil Rights movement? That evil, right-wing Rethuglican, Charlton Heston.

    2. The Republicans became racist to court the Southern voters, and the Southern Strategy is why they win presidential elections.

      (Nevermind that the South didn’t decide a race for a Republican until 2000)

    1. > technician

      Comcast works hard at maintaining their “worst customer service in the USA” rating…

  36. Oh, one of my favorites: You can always rely on experts.

    While generally true, it comes with so many caveats that the theory leaks like a sieve. At core, expertise merely signals familiarity and agreement with the conventional wisdom about a subject. If the conventional wisdom says a rocket won’t work in space because it has nothing to push against, the expert will say so too … and deride any disagreeing view as amateurish ignorance.

    1. Well, I’m reminded of something Arthur Clarke said.

      “If an old scientist says something is impossible, then he’ll likely be wrong. If an old scientist says something is possible, then he’ll likely be correct.” 😀

    2. Expert, derived from two words:
      Ex == obsolete
      Spurt == high velocity water flow

      So Expert == has-been under pressure.

  37. “#GamerGate is a hate movement that wants women and minorities out of gaming.”
    “Sad Puppies is a hate movement that wants a ‘whiter’ Science Fiction.”

    Though the second part has Sarah described as a White Mormon Male with a great rack, which I find amusing. So I guess it’s a silver lining on a dark cloud of annoyance.

  38. Okay, I don’t have any idea how to score this one:

    SCHOLARS – FROM CBS LOCAL: A new survey has found that a third of young millennials in the U.S. aren’t convinced the Earth is actually round. The national poll reveals that 18 to 24-year-olds are the largest group in the country who refuse to accept the scientific facts of the world’s shape. YouGov, a British market research firm, polled 8,215 adults in the United States to find out if they ever believed in the “flat Earth” movement. Only 66 percent of young millennials answered that they “always believe the world is round.” Science teachers across the U.S. will be shaking their heads after learning that nine percent of young adults answered that they have “always believed” the planet was flat. But I’ll bet they believe in global warming. No doubt about that.

    1. On the blog run by He Who Shall Not Be Named, the commenters suspect the poll takers were being weapons-grade trolled, likely by the 4chan people. (That, and it’s another one of “those dumb Americans” stories.)

    2. Someone phones me up and asks me if I believe the world is round, I’m going to start chattering about a turtle and elephants.

    3. Survey says 95% of Millenials are always 110% honest when answering surveys, and would cheerfully troll the poll taker if it were funny, or if they feared retaliation for honest views.

      I’ll start paying more attention to polls again if they are usefully predictive over the next four cycles. Until then, my default assumption is that I can’t account for methodological issues and increased noncompliance.

  39. I am surprised no one has brought up the inherent lie of the “unbiased” media. Seen a few tap dances around it though. We are supposed to trust the lowest level of scholarship to tell us what to believe?

  40. OK, are are a few “Universally accepted” ideas that I believe are largely hogwash;

    The Washington and the cherry tree ‘myth’; contrary to almost universal assumption, there doesn’t seem to be evidence that the story isn’t true. There doesn’t seem to be MUCH that it is, either, but Washington’s decedents, many of whom were fierce debunkers of Washington mythology, never denounced it. The idea that it is a lie seems to stem from a single Biography of the man, written by Woodrow Wilson. And Woodrow Wilson was a Progressivist swine.

    It is accepted wisdom that colleges and universities have always been places dedicated to the ‘free exchange of ideas’. This is largely bushwa; propaganda put about by the higher education industry. Colleges have almost always been fiercely partisan in some or all social and scholarly debates, and have also often functioned as daycare for the work-shy children of the Upper Classes. Oh, they have also fostered genuine scholarship, from time to time. Just don’t count on it.

    It is an important part of Teh Narrative that Colonialism was Really Dreadful. Frankly even the most casual examination of post Colonial Africa shows that this is utter bullish*t.

    Nearly everybody is terribly upset that there are huge quantities of plastic trash floating around in the oceans. Almost nobody brings up that A) 90%+ f this trash comes from ‘developing’ nations, so the West’s guilt over it is somewhat misplaced and B) since plastic is mostly made from the sludge left over from refining gasoline, it’s far from clear that plastic isn’t a net improvement.

    1. > fostered genuine scholarship

      Usually paid for by outside contributors, using the college as a de facto R&D department.

      1. Again, actual scholarship tends to be hit or miss. Some of it gets dome from the University’s basic endowment, as some of the faculty simply produce it, as an athlete produces sweat. And a good deal of the grant money clearly goes to the production of propaganda supporting some narrative. OTOH, a lot of the Faculty are work-shy bums who produce the absolute minimum to stay employed, if that, and some of the grant money produces genuine research and even contradicts the desires of the grant writers.

    2. Eh. There’s no contradiction between “Colonialism was Really Dreadful” and “Native Rule is Really, Really Dreadful.”
      Africa is basically in the same situation that Britain found itself in after Rome left.

  41. Totally out of left field; it just arrived in my head and I thought I’d share;

    “HMS Indigestible? HMS Inconsolable? Who NAMES these ships?!?”

    “Well, there was an Opposition leader who really wanted to cut Naval spending. The Government managed to block him, but he was put on the naming committee as a sop.”

  42. Let’s go back to the real basics:

    Photons mediate the electro-magnetic force.

    The only time photons have ever been observed to be produced by force is when we gave it a name to distinguish it as a special case (piezoelectric.) The interaction between photons and electrons is completely governed by momentum, and as a result, there is no interaction that can result in an attractive force. (In order to make the math generate an attractive force, the physicists resort to negative mass – which has never been found in any photonic measurement, but it makes the math agree with the results they demand, so …)

    Particle physics is based on muddle-headed devotion to orthodoxy, and if we could really understand magnetics and the transmission of force (which may not be the same thing), we’d have an explosion of high tech that would make the electronics revolution look lame.

    Or, perhaps, just a big explosion. Which would be really cool, too.

  43. Saturated fat causes heart attacks by causing cholesterol to clog the arteries like sludge in plumbing. And to reduce risk of heart attack you should replace butter with corn oil and hydrogenated vegetable oils. You know, the ones that say “heart healthy” on the label.

    “It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t so,” — Artemus Ward

  44. Treat type2 diabetes by administering insulin. And fasting will mess up your metabolism.

  45. “Some question whether people in certain parts of the world actually desire freedom. This self-serving condescension has been disproved before our eyes.

    For all the suggestions to the contrary, the truth is that whenever or wherever people are given the choice, they choose freedom.”

    Ummm, no. People only choose freedom (defined as liberty akin to what the Founding Fathers desired) and peace when they have been educated/raised to believe in the principles of freedom and peace.

    Most people desire security and safety. Even among those who were raised on freedom. You only get folks who desire true freedom (and all its accompanying responsibility) when you get Odds or you get a culture founded on that aspect of Judeo-Christian Western Civilization. Period. (And the Odds usually get pounded down like an errant nail if they aren’t in that culture.)

    (And, how in the world did I miss this post when I visited yesterday?!? Oy vey.)

    1. Check the box for email notification of a new post – makes it easy to catch the ones that drop later in the day

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